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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 17 October 2012

Greece sells ports and refinery

Greece has paved the way for a fresh sell-off of the family silver by pledging more privatisations in the coming months to meet the terms of its €130bn (£104bn) bailout. The country's privatisation agency is set to sell a second wave of assets, including its biggest refiner and its two largest ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

Bellway sees no lift to market

The Bank of England's Funding for Lending scheme, launched in August to boost credit, is having little if any effect yet, according to the UK housebuilder Bellway, based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Etihad wants Aer Lingus stake

Etihad Airways would consider buying the Irish government's 25 per cent share of Aer Lingus, it said yesterday. Boss James Hogan said: "If the Irish government approached us to look at the stake, then we would do so. But they have still not approached us." The Abu Dhabi airline currently has a 3 per cent stake in Aer Lingus.

Yahoo poaches Google boss

Yahoo's new chief executive Marissa Mayer has raided her old employer and rival Google to find a new chief operating officer. Henrique de Castro has been tempted by a package worth $58m (£36m) over four years. He will get a basic salary of $600,000, with huge potential bonuses. Ms Mayer joined beleaguered Yahoo in July.

Smiths finds ways to beat the slump

Smiths News, Britain's biggest newspapers and magazines distributor, is bucking a tough economic climate by diversifying into new areas of distribution such as such as education, healthcare and e-books. Profits jumped 14 per cent to £36.6m, with sales up 4 per cent at £1.8bn in the year to August.

Spirit repays faith of investors

Spirit showed that there's life in the pub game yet, despite a £595m writedown on the value of its properties. It reported a 16 per cent rise in profits to £51m from the company's 1,300 pubs, despite lower consumer spending and brutal competition from cheap supermarket plonk. Spirit is paying a dividend of 1.95p.

Carpetright shares fall

Carpetright shares dipped yesterday despite a 0.6 per cent rise in UK sales in the 12 weeks to 13 October. It was the third successive quarter of positive growth. But overseas markets in Europe remain particularly tough after double-digit sales falls.

Sales slip at Informa

Informa, the financial and information publisher which owns Lloyd's List, yesterday admitted like-for-like sales fell 2 per cent in the first nine months of the year. The professional and commercial information division was the worst performer, slumping 4.7 per cent.

Coin collector 'owes £2.2m'

Rare gold coins dealer Baldwin's yesterday said it was owed £2.2m by a Qatari collector, leaving its owner, Noble Investments UK, warning of legal action. Shares in Noble fell 6.5 per cent or 12.5p to 180p on the news.

Pre-tax profits at the builder jumped 57 per cent to £105.3m in the year to 31 July, it reported yesterday.

Spain raises £4bn in bond markets

Debt-laden Spain passed its first test in bond markets since ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut its debt to one notch above junk status last week as it raised €4.9bn (£4bn) in short-term borrowing at a slightly lower cost than a month ago.

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